Moira Carmenate, of the Expat Centre in Costa Blanca South, said she was “surprised” that Spain hadn’t dropped its requirement for pensioners to prove an annual earning of more than £21,000. And with the UK’s state pension being just over £6,500 a year, many British pensioners could be forced to return home if the rules are not relaxed, she said.
There is no indication from Spain’s government that it will lower the threshold, despite the invaluable contribution the 108,000 UK pensioners make to its economy.
Under Spain’s rules, expats need proof of work or if they have retired be able to show they earn more than £21,000 a year.
UK tourists also are estimated to make around a £12 billion annual contribution to the country’s battered economy.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “We kind of expected them to have changed the rules by now, but then who knows what they’re thinking?
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“You wonder why they haven’t changed it considering how much this group contributes to Spain’s economy.
“It’s not in good shape anyway and with Covid every economy in the world has taken a knock.
“It would make you think the Spanish would want all the money it could get.
“But that’s not happened so far and there’s no indication anything will change.”
Ms Carmenate, who is originally from near Glasgow but now lives in Alicante, said that expat pensioners have also been stung by bank charges.
She said that even though it’s small and only equates to around £15 a month, they never had to pay it before and it hits many elderly people on modest incomes.
This has combined with other charges, including on post sent from the UK, to really hamper expats.
It comes as a legal expert told Express.co.uk about the three biggest challenges facing expats in Spain as the nation started to enforce 90-day stays on unregistered Brits.
Barry Davys, who has worked as a specialist financial advisor to expatriates for the past 14 years, warned of additional health insurance requirements, the need to show savings of at least £21,790 and the loss of access to UK Independent Financial Advisors.
Mr Davys, from The Spectrum International Finance Advice Group, said: “As ever, I think it was the fear of the unknown that caused the anxiety pre-applying.
“Most people I know had the reaction ‘that wasn’t too bad at all’ after having gone through the process.”
He added: “(We’ve) noticed the biggest challenge for British in Spain is simply learning what has changed and what has not changed.
“For people who have their Spanish residency card, the TIE, the changes are few.
“For people just arriving there is the additional burden of health insurance requirements and being able to show savings of €25,560 (£21,790) for the first person and €5,700 (£4,860) for each family member.
“The system is not difficult, just new to British people.”